Hyderabadi cuisine is unique, a perfect marriage between the fiery South-Indian and rich North-Indian cuisines of India. Yet, sadly there are such few records in the form of cookbooks, TV shows, magazines, newspapers, blogs or even local restaurants/eateries in the city itself that dedicate to chronicle/serve the true Nizami cuisine of Hyderabad. Only those few lucky members of the Nizam Club of Hyderabad, or people who have connections with the fellow local Hyderabadi families get to enjoy the traditional lovingly home cooked Hyderabadi meals.
clockwise from bottom right~tomatoes, opo squash, meat bones, cooked dal
Daalcha is one such true Hyderabadi preparation. The Nizami cuisine of Hyderabad is not just about Biryani and Mirchi ka Salan, or an assortment of meat concoctions unlike considered. It has to its repertoire many vegetarian and especially dal (lentil) preparations that are deeply related to the inimitable flavors of Nizami cuisine. Basically, there are two variations to daalcha, one is the vegetarian version – which can be prepared with either opo squash, eggplants or drumsticks, and the other non-vegetarian version – made by adding meat bones to the tangy tempered dal. To impress your guests, serve daalcha gosht along with baghara khana and phalli gosht, the way it is served traditionally at Hyderabadi households.
I have added a few bottlegourd pieces to Daalcha Gosht, you can skip adding them if you want only meat in the dal.
Daalcha Gosht – Lentil and Meat stew
Chanay ki Dal/Chana dal – 1 cup
Green chillies – 3, chopped
Tomatoes – 2, large, chopped
Salt – to taste
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Onion – 1/4 cup, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2, each broken into two
Lamb meat with bones/Lamb shanks – 500 gms
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
BottleGourd/Opo squash/Kaddu – 1, medium sized, peeled and cut into diamond shape (optional)
Tamarind extract – 1 cup
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
1. Soak the dal for 1-2 hours in fresh cool water. Later drain the dal and rinse it in a wire mesh under running water. Add this soaked dal to a pressure cooker, pour in about 3 cups of fresh cool water, chopped green chillies, tomatoes and salt. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Puree it in a blender until smooth and keep aside.
2. In a separate pressure cooker at medium high heat pour in oil and as soon as it is warm, add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, sliced onion and stir fry until the onion is lightly golden brown in color. Add ginger-garlic paste and stir fry along for a minute. Add dried red chillies, lamb bones/shanks, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well. Pour in fresh cool water to cover the meat and pressure cook until the meat is tender.
3. Add bottlegourd pieces and mix well. Add little more water to cover them and again pressure cook for 1 whistle. (Skip this step if you are not adding bottlegourd)
4. Add the pureed dal mixture and mix well. Add about 2-3 cups of fresh cool water and tamarind extract to get a pouring consistency (not too thick, nor too thin) and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, simmer and let cook for 10-15 minutes. Add cilantro and stir to mix. Serve warm.